Sanders says he killed out of fear

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 28, 2001

[03/28/01] A former Florence resident told a Warren County jury Tuesday that he killed the man who was “like my brother” because he feared for his safety.

“I can’t say I thought he was going to kill me, but I thought he was going to hurt me,” James Sanders said on the witness stand during the second day of his trial on murder and armed robbery charges.

The jury of nine men and three women, which has been sequestered since the trial began Monday, was expected to begin deliberations Wednesday afternoon.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

In the defense’s opening statement, given Tuesday after Assistant District Attorney John Bullard rested the state’s case, Vicksburg attorney Eugene A. Perrier told the jury his client killed Paul Moore.

“He admits that he did kill his best friend in the heat of passion,” Perrier said.

Sanders was indicted on a charge of murder, which indicates there was an intention to kill. Perrier is arguing that his client is guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Murder carries a possible life sentence and manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

With little emotion, Sanders told the jury that he killed Moore on Feb. 17 in the woods off Gowall Road in North Warren County.

Sanders, 23, said he and his half-brother, 18-year-old Greg Sanders, and Moore, who was also 23, were in the woods looking for marijuana when a fight ensued.

Moore was upset “because we couldn’t find the dope and he threatened to” fight, James Sanders said. “He turned around and I shot him.”

Greg Sanders, who pleaded guilty in April to being an accessory after the fact to armed robbery, earlier Tuesday took the stand as a witness for the prosecution.

He testified there was no fight.

“He told me earlier that he was going out there to kill Paul,” Greg Sanders said. “I heard the chamber being pulled back on the gun, and, by the time I turned around, James had pulled the trigger and Paul was falling to the ground.”

The half-brothers were arrested March 13, one day after Greg Sanders led investigators to Moore’s body.

Greg Sanders was released from jail April 21 with a suspended sentence after he agreed to testify against his sibling.

Under cross-examination by Perrier, Greg Sanders said he did not notify authorities about Moore’s death because he was afraid.

“If he could kill his best friend what’s to stop him from killing his little brother?” Greg Sanders asked.

James Sanders said Tuesday it was his younger brother who took Moore’s pager after he had been shot in the back of the head.

“He took the pager and threw it out the window when we were leaving, and I don’t know what happened to Paul’s wallet,” James Sanders said.

He said he and Moore were closer than brothers and even shared a home on and off for years. Moore served as James Sanders’ best man at his wedding two years ago.

“I really can’t give you a reason for doing it,” James Sanders said. “I was mad and kind of scared.”

James Sanders admitted he lied to Moore’s family after the shooting and told them Paul Moore had gone to Florida. Moore’s body was not recovered for nearly a month after the killing.

James Sanders is facing two life sentences if convicted of armed robbery and murder.